Whale Sharks – The Biggest Fish in Cocos Island

Photo courtesy from insolitanaturaleza.blogspot.com

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)

Max. Length: 1,700 centimeters
Weight: 35 tonnes
a value: 0.00425
b value: 3.0000
Depth Range: 0 – 1928 meters (0 – 6362 feet)
Frequency: Threatened due to increasing demand for shark’s fin

We are quite sure that you are already familiar with this type of shark. But just in case you needed a guided description, you can easily identify a whaleshark with its long and blue colored body that has that distinct white spots patterned in a checkerboard style. And for the record, you should take note that whalesharks are not whales. They are considered as the biggest fish in the world.

Whalesharks are highly migratory where they can be found in all of the world’s tropical waters. Although they feed primarily on small micro-organisms like plankton, they are classified as passive feeders where food can be taken in at anytime courtesy to the constant opening of its terminal mouth. Yes, you read it right. Anything that goes in to the mouth is considered food for the whalesharks. But let me emphasize that they do not pose a direct threat to humans. However, cruising along with these gentle giants still requires us some distance (at least a meter or two) as the possibility of being hit by their powerful tail fin can be eminent as you go near the animal.

Tips on where to find a Whaleshark in Cocos Island

Photo courtesy from www.loosecanonnyc.com

Although whalesharks are considered highly mobile, your encounter with a whaleshark during your underwater adventures in Cocos Island is comparable to a passing by-stander and may be considered just a luck or maybe the icing on the cake. Usually it comes out from the deep blue ocean and may come near the reef where you are situated.

But years of experience has allowed dive professionals to effectively find this gentle creature. Often than not, most dive guides use a biological indicator. For this instance, the presence of a thick school of bigeye trevally signals the arrival of a passing whaleshark. What these dive guides do is they try to penetrate the central vortex of the fish school where a whaleshark may emerge at the back portion of this particular fish congregation.

The White Spots are their Fingerprints

Photo courtesy from World Wildlife Fund

Like humans, whalesharks have fingerprints. But how is it possible since they don’t have fingers? Scientist have discovered that the white spots in their body are uniquely shaped, sized, patterned and undertoned per individual which is similar to a fingerprint characteristic. In short, the white spots in every whaleshark is different in terms of size, shape, undertone and pattern.

And here’s the growing trend: you can have the chance to name a particular whaleshark (if it is not named yet) based on the uniqueness of its white spots. For example, if you see a highly pronounced white undertone in every spot that are relatively huge in size, then you can name that particular whaleshark as Big Whitey.

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Reference

Fishbase: www.fishbase.org

IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species: www.iucnredlist.org

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org

Video courtesy from Wayne Hasson

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